In 1998, in order to join the EU and implement the Union’s directives on gender equality, in Lithuania, for the first time, a separate legal act establishing gender equality was adopted – the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men – which is still in force. It was also the first such law throughout Central and Eastern Europe. It provides for the duties of public authorities, educational and scientific institutions, employers to ensure equal opportunities for the sexes, as well as the prohibition of discriminatory actions, etc.
At the same time, the Office of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men was set up – the Ombudsman’s body, overseeing the enforcement of the law, monitoring and investigating the complaints of discrimination against the population. In 2003 another Law on Equal Opportunities was adopted that protects against discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality, age, disability, religion, etc.). It also obliges to ensure equal opportunities in the fields of state and municipal, education, labor, consumer rights. At the same time, the competence of the controller was extended and the name of the service changed – the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman became an independent institution that supervises both laws.
Alongside these special, targeted laws, there are other legal acts that ensure gender equality – the Constitution, the Labor Code, the Criminal Code, social security laws, etc. In 2016, the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour and Office of the Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities started developing an ESF-financed project to strengthen equal opportunities for women and men. The project should support the implementation of legal provisions under which municipal institutions have to provide for measures aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in municipal strategic development and/or municipal strategic action plans at municipal level. Certain measures are planned for improving gender disaggregated statistics.